When you envision a summer holiday, it’s likely not the Scandinavian region that pops to mind. Your brain probably travels more to scorching Aegean shores and salty Italian streets than the cinnamon-scented promenades and clapboard cottage-studded archipelagoes of Sweden. And yet, with endless summer nights, a myriad of islands that, thanks to the midnight sun, can be explored until well after your bedtime, and climate change bringing ever-balmier days, Stockholm is making a strong case as a destination for your mid-year holiday.

Set across 14 islands, there seems to be water everywhere you look in Stockholm, be it striding down the harbour-adjacent Strandvägen, crossing the Vasabron into Gamla Stan (the old town) or promenading along the southside of the city to the Mariaberget observation deck. Fitting, then, that for a population of around a million people, Stockholm locals are the owners of over 200,000 boats. Getting around on the water is often more convenient than on foot or by car in this most aquatic of cities, with jetties and docks studded everywhere from downtown to the furthest outskirts.

And it doesn’t take much time to get out of the metropolitan sprawl and into the deepest darkest wilderness, either. A 20-minute drive from downtown Stockholm will bring you to Lidingö, the fringes of which feel a million miles from civilisation. Within an hour, you can be in the Stockholm archipelago proper, where tiny islands and inlets seem almost immune to the tussles of modern life.

However, there isn’t much reason to leave town when there’s so much going on within it. With a food and drink scene that punches well above its weight for a city of this size and cultural activities that range from the disco-focused to the historical and the, er, booze-centric, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied on land, too.

Where to eat in Stockholm


Somehow very Japanese and yet entirely Stockholm-centric, Misshumasshu is a neon-hued missh-massh (see what we did there) of cultures. The menu is packed full of flavour-forward small plates, including the ‘Guacamasshu’, which sees an entire avocado mashed up with nori, coriander, ponzu, white onion, chilli flakes and crispy rice paper to scoop it up with. The best part? Ramen comes in ‘little’ serves, so you can load up on nibbles without missing out on the unctuous, richly flavoured broth.

Smålandsgatan 10, 111 46 Stockholm; misshumasshu.se

Sushi Sho

Given the country’s affinity for seafood, it would make sense that Swedes have taken to Japanese food with aplomb. From ramen joints to on-the-go sashimi spots and higher-end temples to the delicate wonder of the country’s cuisine, it’s hard to walk one block in Stockholm without stumbling upon a Japanese eatery. Sushi Sho fits firmly in the latter category, earning a Michelin star for its dinky 14-seater omakase that takes full advantage of the seas' bounty in Sweden.

Upplandsgatan 45, 113 28; sushisho.se

Canta Lola

Peruvian native Erika Goytizolo originally dreamt up the idea for Canta Lola while living in London. Inspired by the global nature of dining in the city while simultaneously disheartened not to find any Peruvian restaurants, she began cooking for friends and family. It wasn’t until she eventually moved to Stockholm that her plans came to fruition with Canta Lola. It makes sense that the restaurant would thrive here, especially considering how Stockholm has taken to Japanese food and the inherent connections between Japanese and Peruvian cuisine. Plus, the city’s abundance of fresh fish makes for a perfect partner to Peru’s raw seafood-centric cooking. Feast on sprightly bowls of ceviche, perfect little tostadas and the best bao bun you’ve ever had.

Grev Turegatan 6, 114 46 Stockholm; cantalola.com


It wouldn’t be a guide to a Scandinavian capital without some New Nordic fine dining and a few Michelin stars thrown in for good measure, and if you’re looking to tick all of those boxes in Stockholm your best bet is, without a doubt, Frantzén. A regular on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – gaining the 30th spot in the 2023 edition – Frantzén is something of a moving feast, taking guests on a journey through the restaurant’s three-story townhouse as they dine on elegant dishes that draw on French, Scandi and Asian influences.

Klara Norra Kyrkogata 26, 111 22 Stockholm; restaurantfrantzen.com


And it certainly wouldn’t be a guide to a modern European city without a small plates wine bar. There are, unsurprisingly, a fair few good options in Stockholm, but our pick of the bunch is Babette. With a robust and natural-leaning wine list, a selection of consistently great pizzas and an ever-changing small plates menu, this is the kind of place you can pop in for a glass and a snack, split a pie after a few too many glasses or go all-in with a feast of great food and even better wine that lasts long into the night.

Roslagsgatan 6, 113 55 Stockholm; babette.se

Where to drink in Stockholm


Stockholm’s first microbrewery, PangPang, boasts a taproom that sits on the western edge of Södermalm, Stockholm’s answer to East London. It’s a fitting home for a brewery that’s all about pushing the boundaries – think sour beers by the bucketload, pastry stouts and even a peanut butter and jelly gose beer – and the food menu has been designed to stand up to the zany liquid combinations with dishes like Iberico ham sandwiches, crab cake and anchovies that are positively swimming in a pool of lemon juice and olive oil, lapped up with hunks of sourdough.

Långholmsgatan 34, 117 33 Stockholm; pangpangbrewery.se

A Bar Called Gemma

Not, in fact, a bar with a woman called Gemma manning the Boston shakers, A Bar Called Gemma is named after an acronym outlining owner Johan Evers' intentions for the bar – generosity, emotional, mindful, multilateral, artisanal. While it all might sound a bit hippy-dippy, it works insofar as this bar is welcoming and laid-back while still taking its drinks programme seriously.

Grev Turegatan 30, 114 38 Stockholm; abarcalledgemma.se

Lucy’s Flower Shop

While you can’t actually buy your loved ones foliage at Lucy’s Flower Shop, the bar is secreted behind a disused flower shop through a secret door. Inside, you’ll find a purple-hued drinking den with a concise menu that celebrates deceptively simple flavour combinations that eschew complicated ingredients in favour of a technique-focused approach to mixology.

Birger Jarlsgatan 20, 114 34 Stockholm; lucysstockholm.se


Did we mention that this was a city surrounded by water? If you don’t happen to get out on a boat, heading to Strandbryggan is the next best thing. At first glance, it looks a little more Spanish than Scandi, a sprawling behemoth of a floating beach bar complete with daybeds and spritzes galore, but closer inspection shows this floating drinkery is as Scandi as they come. Soak up the sun and sip on rosé as boats chug past, dine on the Mediterranean-accented menu and thank your lucky stars that you’re not battling half of England to secure a sunbed on the shores of Palma.

Strandvägskajen 27, 114 56 Stockholm; strandbryggan.se

What to do in Stockholm


Despite fairly restrictive limits around its purchase, Swedes love their alcohol. You only need to attend one Midsommar celebration to understand that schnapps (not the peach liqueur but a strong shot of liquor-like vodka) is integral to the country’s cultural heritage. All that and more are outlined and celebrated at the Spritmuseum, a dedicated guide to the history of Sweden’s relationship with alcohol. From sound booths that play traditional drinking songs (including some we had sung the day before when celebrating Midsommar with our Swedish friends) to the impressive Absolut vodka art collection and the history of the country’s attempts at prohibition, you’ll leave both informed and thirsty. Visit the museum’s waterfront bar outside afterwards, which has a rotating selection of some of the country’s best craft beers on tap.

Djurgårdsstrand 9, 115 21 Stockholm; spritmuseum.se

ABBA Museum

From drinking to disco, it’s impossible to come to Stockholm and not celebrate Sweden’s most joyous export – the band ABBA. With everything from interactive exhibits and karaoke to displays of the band’s costumes and stories of both the band’s beginnings and endings, this museum is absolute catnip for the dancing queen (or king) in your life and genuinely offers an informative experience on one of the world’s biggest disco bands for the less Mamma Mia-inclined.

Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21 Stockholm; abbathemuseum.com

Get out into the archipelago

Need a break from the hubbub of city life? Make your way to the harbour and hop on one of the many ferries that transport locals and visitors alike out into the Stockholm archipelago. Within an hour from the city centre you can be on one of the 30,000 islands that make up this vast watery enclave, where red cottages seem to rise out of rock, villages emerge out of pine forests, and jetties appear to cling to every possible surface. Whether heading to one of the inner islands for lunch or the outer islets for a few days, the ease with which you can immerse yourself in nature is impressive.

Where to stay in Stockholm

Villa Dagmar

The location of Villa Dagmar couldn’t be better. Sitting pretty on a pedestrianised street in the heart of cushy Östermalm, you have the entirety of Stockholm on your doorstep. Centred around a glass-roofed courtyard which houses the bar and the breakfast area, the hotel has a distinct Mediterranean feel – modelled as it was off of the Villa San Michele in Capri. Rooms are quietly tasteful and, even on the entry-level end of the spectrum, sizeable with great storage and capacious marble bathrooms.

Nybrogatan 25-27, 114 39 Stockholm; hotelvilladagmar.com